A first love is never easily forgotten…
and coming face to face with that person again can be awkward when the heartstrings are still holding on to the “what ifs.”
In settings from 1865 to 1910, nine couples are thrown back on the same path by life’s changes and challenges. A neighbor returns from law school. An heiress seeks a quick marriage. A soldier’s homecoming is painful. A family needs help. A prodigal son returns. A rogue aeronaut drops from the sky. A runaway bridegroom comes home. A letter for aid is sent. A doctor needs a nurse. Can love rekindle despite the separation of time and space?
SPOTLIGHT: After the Ball by Martha Rogers
1910 – Dallas, Texas: Chase Thornton, a wealthy oil man yearns for the life of a cowboy and his first love, Susannah King, but can she trust him to keep his word to leave the city and stay on the ranch?
When Chase returned to the ranch for the afternoon siesta time, a strange car sat in the yard. He furrowed his brow. Who would be driving out here this time of day? No one except his family knew he was out here, and the car didn’t belong to them or any of his friends.
When he dismounted, a man jumped out of the car and ran toward Chase. “I’ve been looking everywhere for you.”
“How did you find me?” He recognized one of the reporters for the Dallas paper and gnashed his teeth.
“It wasn’t easy, but I have my sources. What I want to know is what you’re doing out here instead of being in Dallas.”
“I don’t think that’s really any of your business, but if you must know, this is my grandfather’s ranch. I spend several months every summer helping him.” That wasn’t common knowledge, but it would most likely be now. He’d never have any privacy if word got out where he spent his time away from home.
“I see. That’s very thoughtful of you, but I imagine all the pretty, unattached ladies in Dallas are sad you’re not there for the summer theater season and lawn parties.”
“That doesn’t concern me at all. Parties and socials don’t appeal to me like they do for some others I know.”
“That’s interesting and leads me to the other question I have for you.” He pushed his hat back on his head and crossed his arms over his chest. “Who are you planning to take to the awards gala for your father in August?”
Chase’s eyebrows shot up. “And what business is that of yours?”
At that moment, a buggy carrying his grandmother and Susannah rolled into the yard. His grandmother waved and stopped the buggy at the hitching post.
The reporter glanced from Chase to Susannah and back, but he made no comment.
Granny and Susannah alit from the buggy. Granny headed straight for him.
“And who is this visitor with us?” She extended her hand in greeting.
The newsman removed his hat and grasped her hand. “I’m Thad Cooper. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Thornton.”
“And this is Susannah King. She lives here on the ranch, and we’ve just come from town. We’re going inside to have lunch. Would you care to join us?”
Chase opened his mouth to protest, but Mr. Cooper declined first. “Thank you, but I have to get back to Dallas.”
“Very well, but if you change your mind, you’re welcome. It was a pleasure to meet you.” She turned to Susannah. “Come, let’s take our purchases up to the house.”
They walked away, but Granny stopped at the foot of the steps leading up to the landing. “You are planning to join us, aren’t you, Chase?”
“Yes, and I’ll be right up as soon as say good-bye to Mr. Cooper.”
As soon as they were out of earshot, Thad let out a long, low whistle. He grinned and punched Chase on the arm. “Looks like a lot more than cows are your interest. Susannah King is one pretty little filly. She wouldn’t by any chance be the one you’re planning to take to the ball is she?”
“And what if she were?”
Thad slapped his thigh and laughed. “It’d make some pretty good news I’d say.”
“Then I suggest you don’t report it. I haven’t even asked her.” Chase gulped. Until this moment, the thought of asking Susannah to the gala had not occurred to him.
“I see.” He hopped into his car and turned on the motor. “You’re missing a good bet if you don’t.”
Chase didn’t move from his spot as the car backed from the yard and turned onto the road leading to Perryton. What had just happened? Had he told a reporter he’d be taking Susannah to the awards dinner for his father?
He’d like nothing more than to ask Susannah, but what would his mother say? She wouldn’t like it for certain, but he actually didn’t care what she thought. He’d rather have Susannah on his arm than any other women he could picture.
He gazed up toward the house where she had gone with his grandmother. The dinner might be the one thing to let her know how much he cared about her. If she said she’d go with him, he’d make the time very special and if the time was right and if Grandpa asked him to stay, he’d propose to Susannah. Then they could spend the rest of their lives here on the ranch.
With that thought filling his heart, Chase led Black Cloud to his stall. Soon as he finished taking care of his horse and cleaned himself up a bit, he’d be up at the house joining Susannah and his grandparents for lunch. Now he had to figure out a way to ask her and pray she would say yes.
Martha Rogers is a multi-published author and writes a weekly devotional for ACFW. Martha and her husband Rex live in Houston, Texas where they are active members of First Baptist Church. They are the parents of three sons and grandparents to eleven grandchildren and great-grandparents to four, soon to be five. Martha is a retired teacher with twenty-eight years teaching Home Economics and English at the secondary level and eight years at the college level supervising student teachers and teaching freshman English. She is the Director of the Texas Christian Writers Conference held in Houston in August each year, a member of ACFW, ACFW WOTS chapter in Houston, and a member of the writers’ group, Inspirational Writers Alive.
TO CONNECT WITH MARTHA: website
(1) Winner will win a prize pack consisting of one print copy of First Love Forever Romance Collection, (1) Print copy of My Heart Belongs in Mackinac Island by Carrie Fancett Pagels (or any other one of her released titles), a pair of handmade earrings (*style subject to change from what is pictured), additional book swag and a $20 Barnes & Noble Gift Card. (Only Gift card open internationally. All items open to US mailing addresses.) To Enter, use the Rafflecopter below. Be sure to stop at every stop on the tour for additional entries.